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A HEBREW NEW TESTAMENT ?

Richard Rives:

Bob BibleThere is a belief which is being propagated that anything Greek must be suspect and that only Hebrew is to be trusted. Now, some question the New Testament, which has been used for almost two thousand years, simply because it was translated from Greek manuscripts. A few years ago these people believed the Bible. Today they do not trust it; and that is exactly what our adversary wants.

Having learned of pagan traditions which have crept into the churches, some are jumping out of the frying pan of contemporary Christianity into the literal fire of unbelief - to the extent of denying that Jesus / Yeshua is the Christ / Messiah. The Greek, Hebrew, debate has been a contributing factor.

Today there are those who teach that the entire New Testament must have been originally written in Hebrew or Awmaaic and that it could not possibly have been written in Greek. Their is no basis for what they teach. The earliest New Testament manuscripts and fragments are all found in Greek.  No New Testament manuscript is to be found that predates the Greek. Not one!

Some, calling themselves Christians, point to corrupt versions of Matthew, written in Hebrew by anti-Christian scribes, and attempt to persuade us that the information contained therein is preferable to what we find in our Bibles. That should be a great concern for those of us who believe the Bible; especially considering the fact that those versions of Matthew come from unbelieving Rabbinical scholars who would do anything possible to demean Jesus Christ, Yeshua, the Messiah whom they reject and slander in their writings. While there are historical indications that Matthew may have been written in Hebrew, there is no reason to accept an anti-Christian gospel, simply because it is written in Hebrew.

There is no way to honestly overlook the simple fact is that our Bibles were based on Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. Greek was the common language of the Roman Empire and was also one of the predominant languages used in Galilee and Judaea during the first century. Let us not forget that the inscription placed above the head of Jesus at the time of the crucifixion was written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.

When we think of Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, it is easy to imagine that the culture of first century Judaea was similar to that of Old Testament times. That is not the case. A careful study of history proves that the Hellenization of that area began some three hundred years before the time of Christ. After the death of Alexander the Great the Grecian empire was divided. Judaea at that time became a part of the Grecian monarchy of Ptolemy.

Three hundred years is a long time and the historical books of Maccabees report that, by the end of the first century B.C. "the kingdom of the Greeks was completely enslaving Israel." We are informed that under Antiochus Epiphanes, Jason, the high priest, shifted his countrymen over to the Greek way of life.... ...an extreme Hellenization and increase in the adoption of foreign ways...

In 1992 an article entitled "Jewish Funerary Inscriptions" appeared in the periodical: Biblical Archaeology Review. The article references Jewish epitaphs in Palestine and the Diaspora dated from 300 B.C. to 500 A.D.:

"One of the most surprising facts about these funerary inscriptions is that most of them are in Greek-approximately 70 percent; about 12 percent are in Latin, and only 18 percent are in Hebrew or Awmaaic.

These figures are even more instructive if we beak them down between Palestine and the Diaspora. Naturally in Palestine we would expect more Hebrew and Awmaaic and less Greek. This is true but not to any great extent. Even in Palestine approximately two-thirds of these inscriptions are in Greek.

Apparently for a great part of the Jewish population the daily language was Greek, even in Palestine. This is impressive testimony to the impact of Hellenistic culture on Jews in their mother country, to say nothing of the Diaspora

In Jerusalem itself about 40 percent of the Jewish inscriptions from the first-century period (before 70 C.E.) are in Greek. We may assume that most Jewish Jerusalemites who saw the inscriptions in situ were able to read them." ...Biblical Archaeology Review, Sept. / Oct. 1992

There is little debate among scholars that Greek was the universal language of the known world during the first century. The well respected Jewish first century historians Philo and Josephus both wrote in Greek and quoted from the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament. It only makes sense that  a great deal of the New Testament was written by Paul to Greek speaking people, in the Greek dialect,  using Greek terminology.

While there is good indication that Jesus spoke a form of Awmaaic, the proper tongue spoken of in Acts 1:19, there is no indication that the New Testament was written in that language. In fact there are indications in both the Awmaaic or Syraic versions of the New Testament, as well as the Greek versions, that it was not written in Hebrew or Awmaaic.

A good example is Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Emmanuel, or Immanuel as found in Isaiah 7:14, is a Hebrew word. In the Shem Tob version of Matthew, written in Hebrew, the word Emmanuel is interpreted (that is, God with us.) as it is in the Awmaaic of the Peshitta version of Matthew (which is interpreted, Our God is with us). Why would this word have to be "interpreted" if Matthew was written in Hebrew or Awmaaic? It does not make any sense. Hebrew speaking people are well aware of the meaning of the word Immanuel for it is written as two words - the word El representing the English work God, the other Hebrew word meaning with us is - God with us or with us is God.

 

There are other examples as well:

 

Rabbi (which is to say, being interpreted, Master) in John 1:38

 

Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. in John 1:41

 

Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone. in John 1:42

 

...the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. in John 19:13

 

...the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha. in John 19:17

 

Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. in Acts 1:19

 

Abba explained to mean Father in Romans 8:15

 

Talitha cumi, interpreted as Damsel, (I say unto thee) arise in Mark 5:41

 

Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani, being interpreted, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? in Mark 15:33-34

 

Why would these words have to be interpreted if they were originally written in languages familiar with those words? The writers would not have had to do so. On the other hand, it makes perfect sense if they were writing in Greek.

It is also interesting to note that many of the Old Testament quotes found in the New Testament are derived from the Greek version of the Old Testament which predates the Hebrew Masoretic version by some 1200 years. It seems that either the writers of the New Testament were reading from the Greek Old Testament or they were reading from Old Testament Hebrew manuscripts that differ from the Hebrew Masoretic Text.

The bottom line is that, if we believe the New Testament, we must believe the Greek manuscripts from which it is derived. The earliest New Testament manuscripts and fragments are all found in Greek.   No New Testament manuscript is to be found that predates the Greek. Not one! Those who insist that the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew are playing to the hands of Anti-Christian theologians who will do everything possible to lead people away from the truth that the Messiah of Israel has come; making a way of, and offering salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

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WHO IS A LIAR 
BUT HE THAT DENIETH THAT 
JESUS IS THE CHRIST?  

 

He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.  
Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.
...1 John 2:22-23

 

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